Two weeks ago we were thinking about Isaac Watts’ rewriting of a Psalm in the light of the Christ event. In our hymn today he stays much closer to the text.
Recently I attended an online seminar discussing the Hebrew text of Psalm 120. Now it is a long time since I had done anything like this so I was hoping to remain a passenger. However, it soon became clear that active participation was required as we took turns reading, translating, or commenting on a verse. Although I was well out of my depth I really appreciated both the chance to look at a few verses from the Bible in that level of detail and also the many insights shared by the participants.
The most important thing i took away from the session was that after prayer to God for rescue from lying lips and deceitful tongues in verse 2 (of both the Psalm and the hymn), in the middle part of the Psalm (verses 3 and 4 in our Bibles) the Psalmist then goes on talk directly to that deceitful tongue ‘personified’. To use a current expression, he “calls it out”.
I wonder what lying lips we might need saving from today? And which deceitful tongues we should be calling out? Not forgetting the possibility that it might be our own!
Almighty God. we give you thanks for careful scholars who strive to understand the detail of each word and phrase in the scriptures. We give thanks for those who ponder what you might be saying to us through the words. Like our Psalmist and our hymn writer we pray for release from lying lips in our own age, and for the courage to name the lying tongues, even when our own might also be guilty. Amen
The Rev’d Alistair Smeaton, minister in the Cumbria Missional Partnership of the NW Synod